It’s been a smoky summer and fall on the Coastside, and local students are looking to do something about it. While talking with her friends about how to do some good for the Coastside community, Kaiya Hanepen realized there was a national network of support right in her backyard.
Earlier this month, Hanepen, a sophomore at Half Moon Bay High School, helped launch the school’s Red Cross Club, which will coordinate community service to help the immediate needs of the Coastside community.
“I realized that the Red Cross made it pretty easy to help us start a club and that I could go through it to get support with their disaster services,” Hanepen said. “That’s especially why I wanted to start it, because the fires have impacted us here.”
High Moon Bay High School’s Red Cross Club is registered with the American Red Cross’s national network of schools and youth organizations. Specifically, Hanepen reached out to the nonprofit’s Bay Area Chapter, which connected her with youth leadership directors.
The club now receives project suggestions and planning guides from the Red Cross. Students can sign up through the high school’s leadership website. Some participation may even count toward community service hours.
The club meets every two weeks over Zoom, and as of last week had more than 30 students signed on. Christina Yeakley is the club’s administrator.
Hanepen said eventually the club would like to move to in-person activities but will remain remote while the high school’s campus is closed. Some of the ideas so far include creating wildfire relief kits and a virtual CPR training course for all club members.
Hanepen is also a member of the high school’s Environmental and Interact clubs, and she’s spent time volunteering with organizations like the Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay.
While there were plenty of logistics and hurdles to jump through in getting the club certified through the Red Cross, Hanepen is motivated to make a difference in light of the fire danger that hit close to home.
“We’re in the middle of the fire season, and who knows? It may get worse,” Hanepen said. “We’re trying to do whatever we can to help and support our community.”